I always feel like I’m the last one to write my conference wrap up post. Maybe I just take longer to process than everyone else. 🙂 But even though it takes me longer to recap, that doesn’t mean that the conference was any less meaningful. Quite the opposite, in fact.
A few weeks ago, I headed down south to the Haven blogging conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Haven is specifically for DIY/decor bloggers, and this was the third time I had the pleasure of attending. As I tried to decide how to sum up an incredible weekend in one short blog post, three phrases kept coming to mind: Be candid. Be courageous. Build community.
(I apologize in advance for the serious lack of pictures. I was having so much fun I forgot to take them. Also the ones I do have are taken with my iPhone. In bad hotel lighting. So I apologize two times. 🙂 )
Haven kicked off with two absolutely phenomenal bloggers delivering the opening keynote. Marian Parsons (aka Miss Mustard Seed) and Shauna West (of Perfectly Imperfect) talked about their own blogging journeys and the struggle to keep that candidness as part of their blogs as they grew. They encouraged us to be
Real. Open. Authentic. Sincere.
And it really made me think. When I started blogging, I didn’t know how to be anything but that. I just thought up a project or something I wanted to share about what I was learning at that moment in life, wrote it all out, and stuck it up there on my site.
But the longer I blogged, the more and more concerned I became about the “rules.” I learned what “good posts” are supposed to look like, how to format them so people will be interested and visit my site and pin them, what all to include to make sure the “Google gods” extend their favor and send people my way. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of that and forget the reason I started, which was to just be me and share my story and some fun things I’ve created along the way.
As Marian and Shauna so eloquently reminded us, though, this whole blogging thing is truly about being open and connecting with our readers. And not so we can get more pageviews. But so we can genuinely meet them where they are, understand who it is that’s reading our words each day, and do the best we can to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives.
I came away from their talk with a renewed spirit and a resolve to try to bring back more of that openness and authenticity that I had when I first began blogging.
Well if I wasn’t starstruck enough with Marian and Shauna as the opening speakers, the amazing Haven team booked none other than John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love to deliver the closing keynote. I’m not going to lie. I may have had a fan-girl moment when I first saw them. 😉
And speaking of being candid, they were incredibly open and honest about walking away from blogging a few years ago and the journey they’ve been on ever since. They shared so much wisdom, but the biggest thing that really stuck with me was to be courageous, to take risks and try new things.
It is so easy to get caught in a rut with blogging and just keep doing the same types of projects and posts because that’s what we know and what we’ve always done. But that also tends to get stale after a while, and not even just for our readers, but for us as well.
They really emphasized the importance of being willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things, even if they flop, because that is what will keep you excited about your blog and the community that you are building around it.
I felt so challenged by their words, and Donnie and I have already started throwing around ideas of new things we could try to think outside the box a little more. I’m excited to see where it takes us.
Cute little place setting from a dinner I attended with Moen and Home Depot. I may have forgotten to get a picture of John and Sherry, but I remembered to get one of a pretty flag with my name on it, so… 😉
Finally, if you’ve ever read one of my blog conference recap posts before, I’m pretty sure that almost all of them have included the word “community.” I’ve been to four blogging conferences at this point, and each and every time I am blown away by the phenomenal community of people that are brought together by this mutual interest of ours.
All year I look forward to seeing my “tribe,” my girls who have been with me almost since the beginning of my blog, who have encouraged me and stretched me and taught me so much. I know I would not be where I am with my blog today without them.
I loved being able to meet and/or see again so many of the bloggers who are in my Building a Framework Facebook group. I feel like in a way we have all navigated through this blogging thing together and learned from each other as well, and it was delightful to get to connect face to face.
I always look forward to seeing new faces and expanding my blogging community at these conferences. There are always new people starting blogs and joining in the fun, and it is so cool to come across so many others who really “get” this whole blogging thing. There truly is no better community out there.
As usual, I’ve written more than I originally intended, and I don’t even feel like a few words in a blog post can do the whole experience justice. My point is, though, if you ever have the opportunity to attend a blogging conference– just GO! I promise that you will walk away encouraged and inspired and with a refreshed spirit for approaching your blog and even your life. I know I certainly was!
If you’d like to know more about blogging conferences, you can see my past recap posts here:
The Latest Haven Recaps in the History of Haven Recaps (until this year that is– oops!)- Haven 2015
Be candid. Be courageous. Build community. Haven 2016. (You’re here!)
Happy blogging, friends!
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